What are temporomandibular disorders?
Temporomandibular disorders are problems with the joints, ligaments, tendons, or muscles connecting part of your skull (the temporal bone) to your lower jaw bone (mandible). These used to be called TMJ (temporomandibular joint) disorders.
The temporomandibular joint connects your skull to your lower jaw bone. This joint moves in many ways. It opens and closes and slides backward, forward, and side to side. Chewing creates a large amount of pressure on this joint. A piece of cartilage, called a disk, keeps the skull and the lower jawbone from rubbing against each other.
If you have a temporomandibular disorder, you may get headaches, feel soreness when you chew, or hear clicking when you move your jaw
Doctors or dentists usually find a temporomandibular disorder when examining you
Women in their early 20s and women between 40 and 50 are affected more often
Treatment usually involves a mouth guard and pain relief medicine
The Temporomandibular Joint
What causes temporomandibular disorders?
Temporomandibular disorders are caused by:
Physical problems with the joint
Stress or anxiety sometimes makes the problem worse.
Muscle tension in the jaw can be caused by:
Emotional stress or sleep disorders
Joint problems in the jaw can be caused by:
A crooked temporomandibular joint or disk
Arthritis, including osteoarthritis Osteoarthritis (OA) Arthritis is a group of diseases that makes your joints hurt, swell up, and turn red. There are many different types of arthritis. Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis. In osteoarthritis... read more , rheumatoid arthritis Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) Arthritis is a group of diseases that makes your joints hurt, swell up, and turn red. There are many different types of arthritis. RA is a type of arthritis in which your body's immune system... read more , infectious arthritis Infectious Arthritis Arthritis is inflammation in a joint. There are many types of arthritis. Infectious arthritis is arthritis caused by a bacterial infection in a joint. Your joint can get infected if another... read more , and arthritis from an injury
Calcium deposits in the joint
What are the symptoms of temporomandibular disorders?
Symptoms of temporomandibular disorders can include:
Soreness in your jaw muscles when you chew
Clicking or locking of your jaw
Pain near the joint
Pain or stiffness in your neck spreading to your arms
Earaches or stuffiness in your ears
Difficulty opening your mouth wide
How can doctors tell if I have a temporomandibular disorder?
Your doctor or dentist can usually find a temporomandibular disorder by asking about your medical history and doing a physical exam. Sometimes, doctors will:
Do imaging tests, such as MRI Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) MRI is a test that uses a machine with a powerful magnet to make pictures of the inside of your body. A computer creates a series of detailed pictures. Each picture looks like a slice taken... read more (magnetic resonance imaging), x-rays X-Rays An x-ray is an imaging test that takes a picture of the inside of your body. It uses a low dose of x-ray radiation. X-rays show body parts according to how dense (solid) they are. Doctors usually... read more , or CT (computed tomography) scan Computed Tomography A CT scan uses a large machine shaped like a large donut to take x-rays from many angles. A computer then takes the x-rays and creates many detailed pictures of the inside of your body. Each... read more
Take fluid from the joint to test for infection in the joint
How do doctors treat temporomandibular disorders?
Doctors will have you use:
A mouth guard
Pain medicine, such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
Doctors will treat the cause of your temporomandibular disorder. Treatments may include:
Physical therapy and jaw exercises
A device to help reposition the jaw
Most people feel better within about 3 months. Many people recover without treatment within 2 to 3 years.